Chelsea vs. Juventus: 8 Bold Predictions for the Blues' Champions League Opener
At this point last season, Chelsea were barely hanging on to their season. They'd been slotted into a Champions League group with Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Genk and new manager Andre Villas-Boas was already showing signs of losing hold of his side.
Fast-forward eight months later and the Blues had fired Villas-Boas, won their first piece of Champions League silverware and therefore earned a spot in this year's tournament—as well as all the prize money that comes with it.
It's been a dramatic 12 months at Stamford Bridge and it only seems to be getting more dramatic as Chelsea sit atop the Premier League table and start to defend their Champions League title.
First up? Juventus, last season's Serie A title winners and the Blues' most formidable opponents in Group E.
The others? Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Nordsjælland, good teams in their own rights but not the kinds of clubs that will challenge Chelsea or Juventus from moving on.
There's a lot to look forward to as the Blues pursue their second consecutive Champions League title on Wednesday, so the best thing to do is to sit back, relax and check out my bold predictions as Chelsea starts their Champions League campaign against Juventus.
Fernando Torres Will See the Start...
Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo has to play the hot hand at centre-forward, and that means sticking with Fernando Torres.
Torres has resurrected his career at Stamford Bridge, making four starts in Chelsea's first four league matches after only making 20 starts in all competitions last season. He's scored twice and his performances against Newcastle United and Reading earlier in the season were nothing short of inspired.
He'll do Chelsea well at home on Wednesday, winning a few early balls in the air and getting the crowd at Stamford Bridge a few steps closer to fully embracing him once again.
...and Victor Moses Will See the Bench
It's been a tough start for former Wigan Athletic winger Victor Moses.
The 21-year-old appeared in all of the Latics' 38 league matches last season, starting 36 of them. He was "rescued" by Chelsea in a transfer during the last week of the summer window that, according to The Guardian, reportedly cost the Blues £10 million.
But since coming to Stamford Bridge, Moses has had little to do, appearing in just the closing half-hour of last week's disappointing draw with Queens Park Rangers.
I think Di Matteo will again start Moses on the bench, but is the bench where he'll finish?
Juventus Opens the Scoring
Do you really think Chelsea's Champions League win last year has any of the Juventus players shaking in their boots?
They may be travelling away from home for their first group match, but Serie A's defending champions are the favorites to win Group E and more than capable of hanging a few on the Blues.
That said, even though Juventus averaged nearly two goals per league match last season, it's the Italian side's defense, specifically goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will keep Chelsea off the board until the likes of Mirko Vucinic or Sebastian Giovinco can slot one past Blues keeper Petr Cech...
...in the Second Half
That's right, a scoreless first half between two sides who have the potential to hang four or five scores on each other.
Why? Because of Gianluigi Buffon and Petr Cech.
Buffon is world-class and surprisingly agile. Cech is young and uses his athleticism to command the box.
It'll be a joy to watch two high-powered offenses firing shots against these two, but I do believe it'll be Cech, who's ailing from an injury he picked up on international duty with the Czech Republic, who will concede the game's first goal.
...Followed by Three More Goals
That Juventus goal, however, will open the floodgates and cause an avalanche of scoring.
I predict it won't be long after the second-half whistle that Juventus gets on the board. They're quick and they're deadly in passing and stringing together possessions.
But Chelsea are even more lethal on the counter-attack and have shown a propensity in scoring this season much like a domino effect—once one goes between the posts, it's not long before another and another.
...All of Which Are Chelsea's!
...another and another it truly will be!
There's no way Chelsea will blank at home—not during the Champions League. Di Matteo cares too much about the tournament since it was during European play last season that the caretaker earned his way into a permanent managerial position with the Blues.
The Blues have too many weapons on offense. It'll take most of the match, but they'll wear down Juventus' defenses and get three before the final whistle blows.
I've also got Moses coming off the bench in or around the 60th minute and putting the third one through. (Bonus prediction!)
Juventus Will End Match with 10 Men
Juventus have earned a penalty kick in all three of their league matches this year.
At their best, they play a physical game. At their worst? Well, let's just keep it clean and say they play a physical game.
Things are going to get heated for Juventus, especially with Chelsea scoring unanswered goals against the Italian side. Juventus will finally be on the receiving end of some fouls and at least one of their players will be sent to the dressing room.
Chelsea Will Win 3-1
All bold predictions aside, earning three points against any Champions League opponent—especially a club like Juventus who dominated Serie A last season—is an accomplishment.
But Chelsea are riding high, dominating English football and sitting atop the Premier League table themselves.
Despite a shaky start to last year's Champions League, the Blues are one of the best in Europe. They start out their campaign at Stamford Bridge and it'd be hard to disappoint at home.
Chelsea are grabbing three points on Wednesday and they're doing it in dominating fashion. That's my bold prediction.